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WoW Gamer Earns Federal Investigation Achievement 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the jack-thompson-jumps-for-joy dept.
barnyjr writes "A teenager could face federal charges after investigators say he made online threats to kill Americans on a plane from Indianapolis to Chicago. According to investigators, a monitor of the online interactive game World of Warcraft saw the alleged threats in an on-line chat and called Johnson County authorities. She told investigators the chatter didn't seem like a game." I'm not sure who's crazier, this guy or the guy who just became the first World of Warcraft player to rack up 10,000 achievement points.
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WoW Gamer Earns Federal Investigation Achievement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @12:59AM (#28766069)
    I kill you!
  • With what? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tykho (1133421)
    I heard he was Herbalism/Alchemy, he lacked the profession with the means to blow up anything!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jbacon (1327727)

      orly? [wowhead.com] Or he could just pop a Flask of Pure Death and chuck some mad fireballs. I'm pretty sure a plane is worth flasking for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rarel (697734)

        orly?

        "Orly" also happens to be an airport in France. THIS IS NO ACCIDENT SIR.

    • IIRC it's engineering or something like that, you know, where you can make explosives out of rags and some magic powder. It's been a while, though.

  • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:01AM (#28766083)

    Took careful reading to figure out the teenager did not make the threat while he was on the plane.

    "a monitor of the online interactive game" saw words go buy in the chat log.

    • by Hangin10 (704729)

      Words made a purchase of goods or services?

      I did not know they could do that these days. 'round these parts that would not be tolerated.

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:30AM (#28766769)

      There was some talk in the news a year or so back about how security services were afraid of terrorists using online chat in games and such to organise.

      Who wants a bet the "monitor" was actually another NSA (or similar) program data mining chat logs rather than just someone seeing it on the off chance?

      I'm not usually one for conspiracy theories, but if the actions of security services in various countries across the world have taught us anything this last 5 or so years, it's that the measures they'll go to are suprising - from the Russian FSB murdering Litvinenko in London, to the NSA warantless wiretaps program, to the shooting of Menezes on the tube in London and the subsequent "dissapearance" of the CCTV tapes, to the use of torture by the CIA, and now it appears almost certainly MI5 too.

      • All transactions, including communication between players, is logged. What happened here is that other players reported this person making the threats. All reports made to WOW game managers have to be reviewed. As such they found the offending text and they are obligated by their own TOS to report it.

        Look at it this way, teenager makes threats to kill his parents because they won't let him play. Blizzard has it logged but does not report it. Teenager tries to or does kill parents, who do you think is g

        • by icebike (68054)

          >All transactions, including communication between players, is logged.

          There's the problem right there.

          Just stop that, and problem solved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blueg3 (192743)

        Actually, researchers and federal agencies monitor WoW chat -- perhaps partly to catch things like this, but mostly for strange sociological studies.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        It wouldn't really matter is there was an NSA type watching the game and chat logs. You have no idea if the person next to you is a cop on duty or off or some government spy or some researcher trolling for information on behavioral patterns. As long as they are not cheating to get access, it doesn't matter any more then it does that you might be part of the game.

  • Noob (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:02AM (#28766093)

    See what participating in Barrens chat will get you?

  • I only talk to cutegirl8 and littlesarah whenever I'm playing WoW.
  • by moon3 (1530265) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:05AM (#28766105)
    Food eaten most: Conjured Mana Strudel (5447)

    So is this the WoW's secret doping formula?
    • by Artifex (18308)


      Food eaten most: Conjured Mana Strudel (5447)

      So is this the WoW's secret doping formula?

      He's a pally. Surely it's... bubble tea.

  • by TiberSeptm (889423) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:12AM (#28766127)
    ..for poorly thought-out sentences hastily said/typed/written.

    I really wish law enforcement, school officials, and the courts handled the fine gradiations between "stupid stuff kids say," "stupid stuff people, who should know better but apparently don't, say" and "real threats" better than they do. I remember a friend of mine getting suspended in elementary school for saying "I wish you would die" to someone who had been bullying them. Obviously the teary eyed little girl posed a real and imminent threat to the other kid who had at least 30 lbs on her. Then there was the guy in my freshman (high school) english class who was expelled and arrested for some poorly thought out sarcasm. The teacher had sent him to the in-school-suspension trailer for arguing with her about her grading policies. He was still pissed and was insulting her loudly as he left when she said something to the effect of "I feel like I've got the next unibomber right here. I hate watching little psychos like you go through here just knowing what you'll probably become." In response to this ridiculous thing for a teacher to say to a 14 year old student, he said "Oh right, like I'm going to put bomb in your mailbox or something. Are you f-ing nuts?"

    Despite the fact that she had provoked him, that everyone in the class had attested to this and stated it was clear he was being sarcastic, he was still arrested for making threats and expelled from the county school district. I really wish our institutions were better at reacting appropriately to stuff like that. Maybe if they could tell real threats from stupid remarks we would be a lot safer from both the mentally unbalanced seeking to do us harm and our government's hamfisted attempts to look like it's doing something.
    • by eiMichael (1526385) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:50AM (#28766297)

      Zero-Tolerance.

      That's the word of the times. Even though with these policies we still had V-Tech, and other school shootings. It's all security theater to make the ignorant, distracted parents feel like their kids are safe. They'd rather hear terms like "zero-tolerance" than "after investigation that sarcastic remark made to your child was just that, sarcastic and hollow with no intention of following through with the threat."

      • How about some "zero tolerance" on politicians? A politician caught taking bribes or (hey, when we crack down, let's crack down for real) lying, he gets suspended from office, infinitly.

        That should teach them old punks!

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Ah yes, "zero tolerance," the handy crutch for teachers and administrators who are either too stupid to be trusted with making decisions on their own or who are too lazy to make said decisions. Thank you lazy and stupid people for keeping our police officers and courts busy dealing with stupid shit like this when they could be dealing with actual crimes.
    • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:20AM (#28766711)

      The teachers and school administration are actually bullies themselves, and are run by bullies. That's why they never seriously stop bullying (their own progeny!) and always crack down HARD on the bullied.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Did you read the whole article? He wasn't just joking around or taken out of context. He WANTED the FBI to come to test some theory of "if you make threats online against a plane, the police would show up at your doorstep.". Before he even admitted to doing it, he lied and said his computer was hacked. This kid isn't right in the head if he thinks making threats against innocent people, regardless if it's legitimate or not, is acceptable.

    • by damburger (981828)
      What they say it is about is always, always irrelevant. With certain people in minor positions of power, anything that amounts to the word 'no' is a high crime and they will use every means at their disposal to crush you. Fortunately, such people often have less power than they believe they do. The world is, sadly, full of such small people.
    • I agreed with you (but thought it was all very obvious) up to this point:

      I remember a friend of mine getting suspended in elementary school for saying "I wish you would die" to someone who had been bullying them.

      Actually, I think it IS a horrible and dangerous attitude when a kid says something like that. It may not be much of a threat then, but it shows that the child is being allowed to mature without the necessary coping skills for teenage and adult relationships, which she'll one day have to deal with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GTarrant (726871)
        I agreed with you (but thought it was all very obvious) up to this point:

        I remember a friend of mine getting suspended in elementary school for saying "I wish you would die" to someone who had been bullying them.

        Actually, I think it IS a horrible and dangerous attitude when a kid says something like that. It may not be much of a threat then, but it shows that the child is being allowed to mature without the necessary coping skills for teenage and adult relationships, which she'll one day have to dea

        • But when the teacher told me that what I said was inappropriate, and I asked my parents about it later, I - at least as far as I could at that time - understood what was up and I didn't do it again. That's all that needed to happen ...
          Kids really can be quite understanding if you give actual explanations beyond "BECAUSE WE SAID SO".

          Yep, that's pretty much my view as well. The only difference is that, I've seen parents happily teach kids that it's OK to be hateful or to have destructive coping mechanisms, b

      • by moeinvt (851793)

        "Actually, I think it IS a horrible and dangerous attitude when a kid says something like that. "

        Did you notice the part about the kid being a teary-eyed little girl who had been the victim of a bully? What about the bully's attitude? The really screwed up person is the bully, and the parent who, through abuse or neglect allowed their kid to become a sadistic little bastard that would enjoy torturing smaller and weaker people.

        ". . . kids with this sort of behaviour should be detected, taken aside, and tau

        • I am in complete agreement. All the running from bullies and crying and pleading and reporting them to the teacher didn't stop the bullies from harassing me when I was a kid in school. All the counseling didn't stop them.

          Hitting one upside the head with a stack of books and telling the rest to (paraphrased) "bring it on, there's more where that came from" did. When they realized that their lame threats weren't scaring me anymore, and that I was willing to get hit to hit them back, they stopped. I never got

    • by ZosX (517789)

      What's really sad is that he'll be facing federal felony charges if he is tried and convicted. Felony charges. For words. This country is out of hand. This is approaching thought crime, and I don't think I'm the only one that finds this disturbing. Just scare the kid and make him do a few hundred hours of community service. This isn't something that anybody needs to go to federal pound me in the ass prison at the sweet age of 18 over. When did all of our laws suddenly become felonies? Felonies really destro

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      "Despite the fact that she had provoked him, that everyone in the class had attested to this and stated it was clear he was being sarcastic, he was still arrested for making threats and expelled from the county school district."

      If this is true, I am absolutely appalled. I would like to think that there would be some sort of legal recourse for your friend -- did he try contacting the ACLU or any similar organizations? His civil liberties were unquestionably violated and he absolutely deserves restitution f

    • by vertinox (846076)

      I really wish law enforcement, school officials, and the courts handled the fine gradiations between "stupid stuff kids say," "stupid stuff people, who should know better but apparently don't, say" and "real threats" better than they do.

      The whole idea of the "Crime of Conspiracy" irks me simply because it reminds me of people like Cardinal Richelieu [wikipedia.org] whose mantra was:

      "Never write a letter and never destroy one."
      "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something

      • Actually, no. Under U.S. Law, "Conspiracy" Does Not Work Like That. (I have no idea how it works where you are, if you're not in the USA).

        From Wikipedia, regarding Criminal conspiracy under U.S. Law [wikipedia.org]:

        Conspiracy has been defined in the US as an agreement of two or more people to commit a crime, or to accomplish a legal end through illegal actions....

        Conspiracy law usually does not require proof of specific intent by the defendants to injure any specific person to establish an illegal agreement. Instead, usually the law only requires the conspirators have agreed to engage in a certain illegal act. This is sometimes described as a "general intent" to violate the law.

        Conspiracy requires an agreement between people to commit a crime, so at the very least there must be (a) two people, and (b) evidence that they agreed to commit a crime. Some state laws further require an overt act to be committed in furtherance of the proposed crime.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @01:22AM (#28766171)

    I think the most amazing part of the story is this:
    "According to the report, the teen told investigators he'd heard if you make threats online against a plane, the police would show up at your doorstep. The teen told investigators he was only testing that theory."

    Test successful! Big Brother is watching.

    • Re:From TFA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by freedom_india (780002) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @02:21AM (#28766415) Homepage Journal

      He should be thankful to the Feds that they did not send in a SWAT team to smash open the door a.k.a Transformers, and drown the kid in a swimming pool.
      When will people realize that online equals real world ?

      • by damburger (981828)
        Kids talk shit. It isn't something that should be punished with armed police raids and summary execution, outside the senile mind of some old codger who just can't get them off his damn lawn.
        • True.
          But then adults are not entirely sure when kids talk shit or when they talk sense.
          Take for instance Columbine and subsequent school shootings.
          All of them perpetrated by kids who had talked about it before and been ignored.
          Why take a chance?
          Some fool of a Took might take it upon himself to talk superior shit in Warcraft because his raid was resoundly defeated by another bunch of fools playing from another country/town/state/region. Very soon the original fool takes this quarrel into real world parallels

          • by khallow (566160)
            It's not government's job to stop trash-talking 13 year olds. If it ever does become government's job, then that's a solid indication that the government in question has achieved obsolescence and should be promptly scrapped.
        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          Kids talk shit. It isn't something that should be punished with armed police raids and summary execution, outside the senile mind of some old codger who just can't get them off his damn lawn.

          B) Adolescents do stupid things as they try to stretch the boundaries.
          C) Groups of adolescents do REALLY stupid things...

          (I'm currently paying my son and his friends to landscape and build a deck to keep them out of trouble over the summer... I don't know whether to laugh or cry half the time.)

  • IQ = Retard (Score:2, Interesting)

    FTFA:

    "According to the report, the teen told investigators he'd heard if you make threats online against a plane, the police would show up at your doorstep. The teen told investigators he was only testing that theory."

    It makes you wonder...did he perhaps expect Ed McMahon and the Publisher's Clearing House folks to come to the door? (That'd be a trick, and be the first sign of the so-called 'Zombie Apocalypse', but that's another issue).

    There were two outcomes, either the cops come (which happened)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      Actually, I'd guess he expected the same I'd expect: That it's a bunch of baloney and no sane person would believe a 14 year old is plotting the end of the civilized world.

      Want to be a terrorist and bring the police forces to the threshold of their ability to uphold order?

      1. Sign up a few hundred online accounts under false name.
      2. Start chatting about how you'll blow up shit.
      3. Watch SWAT teams all over the continent bust doors of your false addresses, 24/7
      4. Commit the crime you want to commit once they'v

      • Re:IQ = Retard (Score:5, Insightful)

        by damburger (981828) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:51AM (#28766881)

        Not at all a ridiculous strategy. Think of it as a Denial-Of-Counterterrorism attack; throw up some much 'chatter' and false leads at the time you want to attack. I don't know if anyone has tried it yet, but it wouldn't surprise me.

        We need sober, thoughtful investigators unraveling terror networks. Not trigger happy knuckleheads jumping on any and every chance to pretend they are Jack fucking Bauer.

        • Well, maybe we'd need more, or at least some, terrorism in the first place. So those hunting terrorists don't have to resort to such things to prove they're worth their money.

      • by Shinobi (19308)

        "Actually, I'd guess he expected the same I'd expect: That it's a bunch of baloney and no sane person would believe a 14 year old is plotting the end of the civilized world."

        What kind of fantasy world do you live in? Are you one of those pot smokers? Just look around the world at all the kid "soldiers", terrorists, freedom fighters etc, who even at age 13-14 do some strategic level planning. I know, because I've had to deal with some of those kids IN THE REAL WORLD, in Kongo and Liberia for example. Plenty

        • We are talking about a 14 year old playing WoW. Ok? What's the chance of this being a 14 year old mastermind that cleverly decided WoW is the perfect guise to pose as someone with no life, no friends and too much time? And what's the chance that it IS a 14 year old teenager with no life, no friends and too much time?

          If this was Afghanistan, Liberia or Kongo, I might consider your point. This isn't. It's the lazy, overfed, gimmegimmegimme Western World.

          • by murdocj (543661)

            First of all, when you see chat in WoW, you have no idea how old the player is. 10? 15? 25? 55? And remember, this wasn't some "I be ubrz I'm going to kill all you elves" chatter, this was a specific threat against a specific airline flight. If this was mailed in to a newspaper as a threat, you can be damned sure the cops would investigate it, so why should online posts be held to a lower standard?

            • by RedK (112790)
              Because it takes actual effort to write and then post a letter to a major newspaper. Typing stuff in WoW while idling in some zone somewhere takes about 0 effort and relieves some of the boredom of just idling around in a zone in WoW.
              • by murdocj (543661)

                Emailing a letter to a newspaper is EXACTLY the same effort as typing in WoW. And who cares how much effort it is? If someone makes a specific threat against a specific airplane and the plane goes down, do YOU want to be the one who explains why you just were too lazy to check it out?

                • by RedK (112790)
                  Strawman. If you put a kid behind bars even if he was no threat at all to anyone, do YOU want to be the one who explains why you ruined his life ?
                  • by murdocj (543661)

                    If you ignore a written threat and a plane goes down, do YOU want to be the one who explains the deaths to the families?

                    And without investigating, remind me how you knew the age of the person making the threat?

                    By the way, we're not talking about an 8 year old kid pressing 911 to see the shiny fire truck show up, the guy was 18. Old enough to work, old enough to join the army and kill people, certainly old enough to know better.

          • by Shinobi (19308)

            You mean like the 14-16 year olds that ran cells in Northern Ireland? The 14-16 year olds that run some gangs in the US and manage to shake off gangs run by adults?

  • As a guy with 4090 achievement points after 9 months of game play, I'm impressed, but I think he's been doing it a long time, too.*(My point total already puts me in the top 400 on my server, which makes me feel good, but there are many thousands in the US and Europe that rate higher, when all the battlegroups are taken together.)

    I'm somewhat more impressed with the fact that he has 32 Feats of Strength. I have... 3. But then again, FoS are special achievements that don't count towards the normal point tota

    • I'm somewhat more impressed with the fact that he has 32 Feats of Strength.

      Maybe the kids dad insisted on celebrating Festivus every year. That would explain it. The kid probably just wanted it to be over quickly, so he practiced a lot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tnk1 (899206)

      You know, its not as hard or as time consuming as you would think. Granted, he has to be a good, and that does take a certain amount of time and dedication, but when you are a good WoW player, you actually have to play *less* to do more. Almost more importantly than that are the people who you play with. Almost all of those achievements are not his achievements alone, but also a testament to the people he played with who achieved the same things: his raid, his arena team, and his friends in general.

      When

  • How large a gathering of terrorist gnomes does it take to make continuous raids on Tinkertown more cost effective in disrupting their plotting than actually raiding their homes?

    Not to say the FBI would be doing the raiding; they would only need to put one or two personnel in charge of organizing and Horde subsidization, such that the usual employment costs would be reduced by players that would take the enjoyment of smashing a gnome in the face with an orc battle axe. After all, if the terrorists advanced t

  • Whooops! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:13AM (#28766675)
    Should have tried this last year, before he was 18.
  • Knowing that their government is monitoring motherfucking world of warcraft chat for terrorist activity. I mean, I personally play on Defias Brotherhood (EU) and I'm fairly sure the July 7th bombers didn't plan their attacks in any major alliance cities. Can't speak for the horde of course, its an RPPVP server.

    Why do anti-terrorist agencies keep throwing up lonely teenagers with fantasies about blowing things up that they will never carry out? The most obvious explanation is that they are unable to really d

    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      The government is NOT monitoring WoW. This was something that was picked up by a GM. He probably was reported by somebody for saying this in the trade channel, in fact -- GMs don't often actually actively monitor chat, but when someone reports something, they do have the ability to check out a log of recent chatter in the channel.

  • by HetMes (1074585) on Tuesday July 21, 2009 @03:49AM (#28766873)
    First, from a European point of view, the "I'll sue your ass for not telling me the sky is blue" way of handling responsibility has caused any identity (government, business, neighbor, colleague, celebrity) that cannot hide in anonymity to be overly cautious. Any acceptable risk of danger is offset by the enormous danger of due compensation if something does go wrong. Secondly, the government is, due to their required independence, by definition an onlooker with regard to the communities they have to watch/control. Could we easily tell from carefully watching a box of thousands of bouncing rubber balls which ones are behaving differently from the others when it all looks like a blur? Surely, each individual ball would notice discrepancies upon encountering such an outlier, but this cannot be expected from an outsider. Thirdly, and this combines the first two, the best the onlooker can do to exclude any false negatives in its selection procedure, is to make sure any voluntary irregular behavior is absent, so that the irregular ones are more easily distinguished. For that same reason any, maybe in itself harmless, strange behavior at airports is dealt with as if it were the real thing to discourage such behavior in the future. The assumption is, of course, that the odd balls are unable to act as normal as the regular ones.
    • A couple of years ago, some alerts were ignored by the security services and 9/11 happened. Oh, some might argue that they had orders to do so but in security you RARELY respond with exactly the right response. Either you have 2 cops, 4 street coaches and a motor ambulance driver attending a scraped knee (just yesterday) or you are screaming in your radio for back up while people are dying because you only got one pair of hands.

      In security be it police, firemen, ambulance there really is only ONE right res

  • Seriously? You're going to compare the level of crazy of someone (allegedly) making a (credible) threat on someone else's life -- perhaps many people's -- and that of someone who spends "too much" time playing a video game? Seriously?

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Seriously? You're going to compare the level of crazy of someone (allegedly) making a (credible) threat on someone else's life -- perhaps many people's -- and that of someone who spends "too much" time playing a video game? Seriously?

      Well it is probably fair to compare someone who is stupid enough to make threats in a game where ALL the chat is logged to someone who just plays too much. I guess someone forgot to point out that what happens in Dalaran stays in Dalaran.

  • We'll see what the Feds decide to do with the wanker. If he mentioned a particular spell he had in mind for the plane, it could make for an interesting trial. During the Vietnam war I must have had pizza for dinner half a dozen times because the dorm food service was closed for bomb threats. Nobody was ever prosecuted back then.

  • Where no amount of spells can save you.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

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